Aman Ittehad Holds Convention in Balochistan

Quetta, 17 March 2011: Aman Ittehad held its Balochistan Convention in Quetta today. A large number of students, teachers, lawyers, journalists, and human rights activists from different parts of Balochistan participated in the convention. The Provincial Minister for Quality Education; the President and General Secretary of the Balochistan Bar Association; and leaders of the PPP, BNP, National Party, PKMAP, HDP, Pakistan Workers Party were amongst those that attended the event.

Ms. Huma Fauladi began the proceedings by giving a background of Aman Ittehad. “The Aman Ittehad is a citizen platform bringing together hundreds of citizens from across the country that are striving for peace, justice and democratic governance.” The Ittehad is beginning a debate on a new social contract.

“The situation in Balochistan has aggravated over the past few years and it is critical that urgent action is taken to immediately stop torture killings, target killings and kill and dump practices,” said a young woman participating in the Convention.  Participants agreed that all forms of violence must be condemned. “Pakistan is a country of diverse nations, including Pushtun, Sindhi, Baloch, Punjabi, etc. “We must celebrate our cultural diversity,” stated a participant. Participants stressed that peace will not be possible without rule of law, justice, and accountability. The freedom of practicing one’s religion was supported. “We must also demand that no one should be allowed to pressurize any person to practice religion in way other than what he or she wishes,” said a participating doctor. The rights of minorities should also be protected.

There was support for democratic governance at the federal, provincial and local levels. However, there was public disappointment expressed at the role of many political parties and public representatives. “Many parliamentarians do not bother to attend parliamentary sessions and play their due role,” said a political worker. There was agreement that the electorate should have the right of recall of non-performing representatives. Political leaders also stressed that political parties should be allowed to evolve as institutions. Support was expressed for provincial autonomy with fiscal space. There was a suggestion that the issue of control over resources should not only be a slogan but clear equations of sharing resources should be worked out. Pakistan’s foreign policy should actively pursue friendly relations with all its neighbours. “Along with trade treaties, we should also actively pursue cultural exchanges with our neighbours,” said a young activist.

This is the first of a series of provincial conventions to be organized by Aman Ittehad. Debates promoted through these events will help shape a social contract. “It is critical that we connect with each other across the country and develop a better understanding of each other’s issues with a view to building trust,” said Ali Asghar Khan, Coordinator of the National Secretariat of the Aman Ittehad. The convention also included songs and poetry in Urdu and local languages including Balochi, Pushto, Brahvi, Persian. The event was organized by Aman Ittehad in collaboration with Beej, Network for Peace & Justice, Peace Balochistan, Taraqee Foundation, Seher, and ZNPS.

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